Monday 19 October 2009


A fine autumn sun belatedly appearing this afternoon, I took myself out for a stroll around a local park, shielding my eyes against the dazzle, admiring the trees in their seasonal colours, bright against a strong blue sky, and keeping an eye open for the kingfisher. I didn't see him (him? Why do we always assume that? And that there is only one?), but I did have the satisfying small thrill of seeing my first redwing of the year. A small busy party of a dozen or so of these pretty little northern thrushes were restlessly mustering in a poplar tree and, of course, giving that distinctive flight call that rarely seems to stop. John Fowles describes it as 'a very thin, high-pitched, glistening whistle, an inbreath... I kept on thinking of the adjective glistening. Like a sudden small gleam of old silver in a dark room. Strange remote beautiful sounds...'
Strange, remote and beautiful indeed - the sound of northern wilderness, heard in a suburban park. Winter is on its way.


  1. Ah, a lovely little bird, the Redwing, like a thrush with acne.

  2. "There once was an Indian maid,
    A shy little prairie maid,
    Who sang a lay, a love song gay,
    As on the plain she'd while away the day;

    She loved a warrior bold,
    This shy little maid of old,
    But brave and gay, he rode one day
    To battle far away.

    Now, the moon shines tonight on pretty Red Wing
    The breeze is sighing, the night bird's crying,
    For afar 'neath his star her brave is sleeping,
    While Red Wing's weeping her heart away.

    She watched for him day and night,
    She kept all the campfires bright,
    And under the sky, each night she would lie,
    And dream about his coming by and by;

    But when all the braves returned,
    The heart of Red Wing yearned,
    For far, far away, her warrior gay,
    Fell bravely in the fray."

    Unfortunately, Nige, the boy scouts version was a little different.
    Lovely bird, not seen up here.

  3. How very good - and,if I may say so, characteristic - of you, Malty, to supply the clean version from all the available filthy options. Did Hank Williams sing this one? Or maybe Jimmy Rogers?
    And thanks Gadjo - it could be a touch of sunburn too. Winter sunburn.